Worth the Watch
This is the tour that not enough people know enough about. Its players are strong and someday youll recognize their efforts without promotion like this. I ask, has there ever been a better year on this tour? I think not.
David Duval won the first ever Buy.Com [then Hogan] Tour Championship in 1993, graduated to stardom on the PGA Tour and has been a household name ever since. Chris Smith earned the first ever Battlefield Promotion in 1997 on this tour and has now settled in on the PGA Tour reaching the potential that was expected.
But this year has been different. Two young men have matched the feat of Chris Smith. Heath Slocum and Chad Campbell both earned the promotion with three victories this season and are playing this week in the tours championship event. Also in the field: Brett Quigley, whos not in the coveted top-15 - but doesnt need to be. After a Buy.Com Tour win earlier this year in Arkansas, he made the most of a PGA Tour opportunity in Greensboro, nearly won and stayed out on the big tour the rest of the way. Hes got a PGA Tour card because of it.
Could Campbell and Slocum play their way into a Sunday final-round pairing? It would be great. But look out for some others, like Bo Van Pelt, a top-15 resident coming in who has PGA Tour experience already. A long hitter, hes got what it takes to tame this beast of a course that measures over 7,600 yards. Thats right - 7,600 yards. Pat Bates won last week and told me on Wednesday that hes never been this relaxed about his game, showing a quiet confidence he didnt have in his first crack at the PGA Tour some five-odd years ago. Not many putt better than Bates, except maybe Deane Pappas, a South African whos also been to the PGA Tour before. Hell need to roll them well on this course - it has greens inside greens. Each of the 18 has its own small quadrants, so putting it close and rolling it home will be a tall order.
Buy.Com Official Money List
This tour deserves every bit of spotlight it can get. You might not know names like John Rollins and Jeff Gove, but each has been to the big tour before and have sights on a return. If you want to steer away from the youth movement and guys like Campbell and Jonathan Byrd (another star in the making), why not root for vets like Richard Zokol and Steve Haskins. Both in their 40s, and Haskins has never been to the PGA Tour before. Right now, he's just on the outside of the Top-15, but can you imagine the emotion of realizing a lifelong dream this week? What an interview that would be.
In fact, thats what this tour is all about - realizing dreams. So pick a player, maybe a Rod Pampling or a Tim Petrovic or even a rookie like 24-year-old D.A. Points. Im not begging you to care about these guys, but I am urging you to take a look. Theyve earned a few moments of your time this week. This is their biggest stage ' at least for now! And when they do reach the PGA Tour, you can say I saw them when...
'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.
Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.
“The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”
Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.
The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.
“That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”
Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.
“They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”
Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.
“The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.
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Ball headed O.B., Stone (68) gets huge break
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brandon Stone knew it when he hit it.
“I knew I hit it out of bounds,” the South African said following his opening round in the 147th Open Championship.
Stone’s second shot on the par-4 18th, from the left fescue, was pulled into the grandstands, which are marked as O.B. But instead of settling in with the crowd, the ball ricocheted back towards the green and nearly onto the putting surface.
Stone made his par and walked away with a 3-under 68, two shots off the early lead.
“I really didn’t put a good swing on it, bad contact and it just came out way left,” Stone said. “I feel so sorry for the person I managed to catch on the forehead there, but got a lucky break.
“When you get breaks like that you know you’re going to have good weeks.”
It’s been more than just good luck recently for Stone. He shot 60 in the final round – missing a 9-foot birdie putt for the first 59 in European Tour history – to win last week’s Scottish Open. It was his third career win on the circuit and first since 2016. It was also just his first top-10 of the season.
“A testament to a different mental approach and probably the change in putter,” said Stone, who added that he switched to a new Ping Anser blade model last week.
“I’ve been putting, probably, the best I have in my entire life.”
This marks Stone’s sixth start in a major championship, with his best finish a tie for 35th in last year’s U.S. Open. He has a missed cut and a T-70 in two prior Open Championships.